Auckland To Get A Wooden Boat Festival


Well woodys it’s been a long time in the cooking pot but at last it’s a happening thing. Circle 24th Feb > 24th March 2024 in the diary. Bankrolled by Auckland Council’s Unlimited Major Events division, the Wooden Boat Festival will be part of a month long Ocean Festival.

Having previously spoken to the brains trusts behind both the Australian Wooden Boat Festival and the Port Townson – USA, Wooden Boat Festival their advice was start small and grow organically. Also it’s not all about old large gaff rigged yachts, the home built wooden canoe needs to be also front and centre. Public access also needs to free.

The fact the event name has BOAT in it and not YACHT is a positive sign 😉


In reply to my question what’s happening with the Vos Shed ? –  I got “we have a paying tenant , a film crew are currently using it” WTF….. every time I see / hear that the Maritime Museum are involved in anything, it’s the kiss of death. We live in hope, but if I had $10 for every time I have been told “I shouldn’t tell you this, but it’s happening, an announcement soon” I would be a wealthy man. 


Went to the boat show yesterday – lots of on-the-water vessels, most with a price tag on them. The ’trade’ exhibits were down in numbers but still good to catch up with the normal crew. Zero woodys to be seen – but if I suffered a bang-on-the-head and had a desire for a plastic boat, I’d be looking at a Sasga Yachts – Menorquin 42’ HT – lots of wood on show and built in Spain.

Kaikoura – A Flashback

Feb 2021 Islington Bay
As launched
Graham Gibson at helm
1988- Owner Stewart Bridgford,- center

KAIKOURI – A Flashback

The 40’ Kaikoura was built in 1951 by P Vos. It is believed she was built for the owner of Kaikoura Island at the mouth of Fitzroy Harbour, Great Barrier Island, as transport between the island and Auckland.

She has always been a zoom zoomer – when launched she had twin165 engines that gave her a top speed of 25 knots. These days she is a regular compeditor (& winner) at CYA race events.
The flybridge was added in 1988, by then owner Stewart Bridgford,

20-06-2021 – Input on Kaikours’s  twin Perkins 510, 8.36 liter, V8 4-stoke diesels from Mark Erskine
The 510 (cubic inch) V8 was the first V8 model manufactured by Perkins, UK in 1965 and were rated at 170 HP at 2,800 rpm and were used predominantly in trucks and a few bus models.

The 510 was followed by the more reliable, longer stroke 540 cubic inch V8 Perkins at 8.84 liters and 170 HP at 2,600 rpm.

Other than their considerable size and weight for a modest power output, the 510 (and 540) proved reliable enough in commercial vehicle operation, so would make good, reliable marine engines when run at constant lower revs and moderate loads.

“Kaikoura’s” previous Kermath inline 6-cylinder engines were side-valve (or “flat-head”) design and all side-valve engines have a lower crank center line to top of engine measurements than overhead valve and overhead cam inline design engines.

The lower engine height above crank shaft center line helps boat builders retain flat cabin floors in larger boat designs.

Most V8 design engines (including overhead valve) also have lower crankshaft center line to top of engine measurements because the cylinders and cylinder heads are inclined in “V” shape out either side of the crank shaft center line.

So although the 510 (and 540) Perkins V8 diesel engines are considerably larger and considerably heavier than the previous Kermath inline 6-cylinder engines for similar power output, the top of the Perkins V8 engine wouldn’t have been much higher than the top of the inline 6-cylinder Kermath side-valve, which means “Kaikoura” would have likely retained her same flat cabin flooring over the Perkins engines – a nice feature in all boats.


Manaia – A Peek Down Below

MANAIA – A Peek Down Below

Manaia has made several appearance on WW, link below the backgrounds her early days . She was designed by Alex Collings and built in 1965 by Percy Vos. Now thanks to a nudge from Alan Sexton and tme – we get to see the results of some of the recent work on her. She is looking very smart for an ex Harbour Board Pilot boat 🙂

Currently offered for sale but you’ll need a 25m marina. Contact

Previous WW story link below

Manaia – Launch Day + Volvo Race Start






MANAIA – Launch Day

The above photos of Manaia were sent to me by Paul Drake – I’ll let Paul tell the story behind them.

“The first four I took on launching day. I was 15 and in the midst of School Certificate. No exam that day, so off I went on my bike from home in Balmoral, camera in my bag. 

In the second pic, Capt. Warwick Dunsford can be seen in charge on the foredeck (white boiler suit and black beret). 

In the third pic, Percy Vos himself is clearly recognizable just by the fore foot. 

The last two photos I have had since the 1960’s & most likely come from the camera of TW Collins. Great photos, especially the one from the port quarter, and show MANAIA at work.

MANAIA is certainly very original, but note that the stem now has an unattractive (to me) hook near the top. Much better straight in my view.  Also note unusual chine aft. Double ender but hard chine aft. That’s why she can do 15 knots if required!

MANAIA was about the last of the large wooden pilot vessels built for New Zealand ports. About the same time as AKARANA and 10 years after TIAKINA (Wellington – and also a Collings design). TIAKINA of course built in England and steamed out via Suez Canal.”

You can see photos of Manaia today, looking very smart & read extensive details on her past here


Volvo Round-the-World Yacht Race -Auckland Start








Photos Below In The Order They Passed North Head








And a couple of Woodys amongst the sea of plastic boats


Peter Boardman – Lady Margaret


Angus Rogers – Mahanui






I was recently contacted by Adam Leyden who approx. 4 months ago purchased the ex Northland Harbour Board Pilot launch Manaia & is looking for any info the woodys may be able to provide on her past. Adam commented that there is a huge amount of history onboard the vessel e.g. log books etc. even a weekly stock take of the onboard bar from when she was a working boat, those boys knew how to party! What Adam would really like is some older photos and details of her many (10+ I believe) trips up to the Pacific Islands. 

Adam purchased Manaia out of Picton & has returned her to her home port of Marsden Point & is in the early stages of planing her restoration. Structurally, she is still in fantastic condition, as is the machinery, drive lines, steering gear etc. Cosmetically she has been let go a little and the priority is to get the decks resealed and re varnish (Uroxsys) the teak wheel house and main cabin. Below is some background that Adam supplied.

She is an A.J Collings design, built in Auckland by P. Vos and launched November 1963. She was built as a pilot boat for the then Northland Harbour Board. Although she was built as a work boat, the spec and fit-out was more at the super yacht end of the scale, launched with a bar, game chairs etc. she had a bit of a reputation as a party boat back then too! She was with the Harbour Board from 1963 to around 1990 and has spent much of her life in Wellington and the Marlborough Sounds since then. She has completed seven trips to Noumea as a support vessel for the Whangarei – Noumea yacht races, the first in 1967 and the last in 1984. Looking through the log books still onboard, she has been on several other adventures through the Pacific too.  

Her hull, machinery, drive lines, steering gear etc. are all in great condition still, probably because of the quality of materials and gear used when she was constructed. Sadly she has not had a lot of maintenance or use over the last ten odd years and there is a bit of cosmetic stuff to get on top of, fortunately she is still quite original and a chainsaw won’t be necessary to get her looking good again. The two 16L straight 8 Rolls Royce diesels performed flawlessly on our trip from Picton to Marsden Point and were surprisingly economical, we averaged 3.9L per NM at 10.5kns on the trip. She cruises at 10 knots happily doing 1800rpm. We did get a touch over 15knots out of her on a short burst, however that destroyed the fuel consumption and the wake was huge!

It would be great to find some photos of her back in her working days when her hull was painted royal blue! It would also be great to hear from anyone who has spent time aboard her or been off shore on her.”

The two below photos are from the beginning and end of her trip from Picton to Marsden Cove Marina



30-01-2018 Input from Richard Morgan

Manaia was certainly a striking vessel when painted navy blue and looked more like an Admiral’s Barge, or a Royal Barge than a Harbour Board work-boat. I presume she was built at the order of the late Ralph Trimmer, Chairman of the Northland Harbour Board, a prominent local lawyer, and strong advocate for Whangarei and its port. Without Ralph Trimmer the refinery would probably have been located at Picton or somewhere. Built ostensibly as a working vessel Manaia was at the same time a pilot launch, a floating board room, a pleasure boat, and a nautical sales office and tourist ship for visiting dignitaries. VIPs entertained on board would have been from other Port Authorities, shipping companies, oil company executives, and representatives from many organisations and governments that the Port Company wanted to influence. As noted, the “Grog Cabinet’ was legendary and we can be sure many well-lubricated lobbying sessions and deal-signing sessions were held on board. RK Trimmer was later prosecuted for various financial mis-managements, but no Whangarei resident felt he was guilty of these as the city and port had benefitted more under his leadership than from any council or board before or since.

In a discussion I had with the late Capt. Peter Wavish, a former Pilot and Harbourmaster for Northland Port, we discussed Manaia, and if I remember correctly, he said she was a beautiful ship, but rolled like a drunken sailor in sea-boots! So those trips into the Pacific Ocean must have been an experience never to forget for those with a land-lubber’s tummy.

Mahaki – Sailing Sunday

MAHAKI – Sailing Sunday
photos & details ex Angus Rogers

Angus Rogers has sent in the above photos of the yacht Mahaki, owned by his grandfather Lionel B Rogers with EJ Jamieson and JF Harrison in Wellington and the photos were taken about 1909. Angus knows nothing about the design but is a fan of her clipper bow.

Sadly Mahaki was wrecked on the Wairarapa coast a year or so later on a trip which Angus’s grandfather wanted to go on but could not because he was made by his mother to go to a funeral of an aunt. It was fortunate that he didn’t because all lives on board were lost with the boat.
Note: the information about the name, owners and locations are from writing on the backs of the photos

Can we shed some more light on Mahaki in terms of designer / builder & other owners?

Positive News On The Historic Vos Boat Yard – view video footage of CYA member Baden Pascoe talking about the Vos yard & the funding announcement.

Photos from the Round The Island race during the British Classic Week

Harold Kidd Input

This Wellington MAHAKI was designed and built by J.T. Pratt in late 1895 for himself. The design may well have come from an overseas design, possibly in one of Dixon Kemp’s books, as did many other at the time. She was quite small, rating 1.6 or 1.7. Pratt sold her Wiggins and Hannah about 1899 and subsequent owners were Anderson & Co (1902) then the Jamieson syndicate (1906). Birch and Elliott appear to have owned her from 1907 but may just be members of the Jamieson syndicate. When her owners “went to the Front” in WW1 she was hauled up at Balaena Bay and deteriorated. She was broken up for her lead there in late 1917. Several other yachts were scrapped at the same time including MAY.
I think the tale of the wreck on the Wairarapa coast is a conflation with the wreck of a similar yacht around the same time, one of many Wellington yachts that left their bones in and around Palliser Bay.

PS thinking about the wreck, supposedly of MAHAKI, I reckon the story of the loss of the 24ft keel yacht TE AROHA has got mixed up with the legend. TE AROHA was built in late 1899 by R.G. Millman and foundered on January 2nd 1905 at Wellington Heads after returning from the Sounds. All three on board lost their lives. Maybe Lionel Rogers was meant to sail on TE AROHA?

La Reta (Sayandra – ML410)

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In Fiji

LA RETA (Sayandra – ML410)

details & photos ex Bob McDougall , Russell Ward & Ken Ricketts + the   ‘Workboat Study Group’

La Reta  started life & was launched in December 1942 as “ML 410,” for the Royal New Zealand Navy, & built by P Vos Ltd., at their slipway, at Auckland Harbour’s Western Reclamation.

Miss Fay Vos, the builders daughter, christened her, whilst Lt. Gordon Crisp, the first C.O., looked on proudly.

She was commissioned on January 25th 1943 & immediately sailed for the Wellington region, where she spent much of her wartime service.

After WWII, she was sold to a person by the name of Jarvis, who sold her to the Cook Islands Producer Board.

She was by then named, La Reta.

She left for Rarotonga on 19th May 1949 & stayed there for 2 years, after which she returned to Auckland & undertook excursion work (fishing trips) from 1950 to 1965 & in 1963 was renamed Sayandra.

Russell Ward  recalls she then had a flat / boxy top & vertical oblong screens to the open bridge but the Fairmile wheelhouse. He remembers some brave soul ‘tarting’ up a Fairmile in the early ’60s and running three day gulf excursions. Had male and female heads at the aft end of the deck house, this might account for the big water tank above in the above picture. Russell particularly remembers the toilet arrangements because he tried to talk them into giving him a holiday job as deckhand & had a good look over.  He also commented that in the photo she has a RDF and a loudspeaker on the foredeck which would suggest commercial use.

The most recent photo above was most likely was taken in or around the mid 1960s.

Power was originally 2 x 530HP Hall Scott V12 petrol engines replaced by 2 x 6-71 175 hp GM Detroit diesels after WWII.

To view / read an great Evening Post article on the building of the Fairmailes click the blue link below. (ex Harold Kidd)


10-11-2015 I recently received this great story from Vern Lake, one of the former crew – its a cool read. Enjoy. Alan H

I have been following and reading your very interesting articles., among others in my search for information and possible pics of where the Fairmile LA RETA is and what happened to her. La Reta (Q410) was used as a day fishing excursion vessel operating from the Princes Wharf launch steps on Quay St Auckland, under the command of Captain XXXXXXXXX (deleted by AH), retired ex Royal Naval Captain. ( I was always led to believe that Captain XXXXXXXX owned the LA RETA ) also operating from the same launch steps as a day fishing excursion vessel was the 60ft? Florence Kennedy owned and operated by Len Sowerby, also there was a much smaller vessel Shannondoah  also operating as a day  fishing excursion vessel,  owned and operated by Abe or Alby? my memory of his correct name is a bit hazy.
I worked and lived aboard the LA RETA for a few  years during the 1950s/early60s, the Engineers’ name was Bill Daveny, I was the deckhand/ Coxwain, also doubling as  Second Engineer on almost a daily basis on the homeward voyage as the Engineer had to berth the boat due to the Captain being drunk! ( I had to go to the side door of the Captains’ favourite Hotel every morning with a sugar bag to collect two bottles of square Gin and a dozen tall bottles of beer, the Captain had many habitual drinking mates who went out every day, they stayed in the wheelhouse drinking all day) I went below to operate the throttles and manual gearbox levers as per the ships telegraph signals from the Bridge. Captain XXXXXXXX misjudged the timing to signal the engine room on one occasion and the ship ended up with the bow under the wharf, luckily no one was injured!
 My Dad first took me out fishing on the LA RETA when I was 10 in 1951/52. I was a frequent passenger after that, the Engineer was a friend of my Dad so he took me under his wing and taught me well, I was the youngest on the Auckland waterfront to obtain my proficiency certificate of Radio Telephone Operator in 1959, LA RETA still had the wartime radio, compass and searchlight which was mounted on the Bridge, the Auxilliary engine was a Petters, mounted on the Starboard side of the engine room. We could comfortably carry 120 people with ample room for all to fish, there were regulars who went out 5 days per week, selling their fish on the pub black market!
I came to Australia for a holiday in mid 1962, liked it here so stayed, the Engineer was sent to Queensland early 1963 with explicit instructions to get me to go back to Auckland to crew on LA RETA as she was or had undergone alterations to become a luxury cruise vessel, I declined the offer, choosing instead to Skipper a 40ft Prawn Trawler on Moreton Bay Q’ld. The last I heard she had gone to the Islands then up to Canada. I have tried searching for her on the internet for 10 years, I made enquiries to the Canadian Marine Officials but with no luck,  early this year I got an email from a Lady in Auckland she said LA RETA was renamed Sayandra and was wrecked in the Islands and subsequently blown up as she could not be salvaged. Late last night I was again looking at your site and came across the above article that you posted early this year.

I would be grateful if you could email me any further info/pictures etc of the LA RETA/SAYANDRA. All my photos were lost during one of our big Queensland floods, La Reta was a big part of my younger life, ( I am now 75 ) I actually shed a few tears when I learned that she is now in Davey Jones’ locker…. VERY SAD ENDING to a fine ship!!!!!
My email address:




Story & photo from Russell Ward

The name was a made-up Maori concoction of two syllables and is meaningless (sort of).
She was built in 1956 by P Vos and Co and was really classy. Heavy as hell –a Cook Straiter as you would expect from Percy. Teak coamings and was really nice. For example, she had a curved transom –expensive stuff. A bit scruffy when the old man took over but he usually sorted that out pretty sharpish.
She had an abdominal Ford 60hp which was a rough installation. The previous owner was a farmer and this engine was a chuckout from one of the tractors by the looks. It was replaced by a Perkins which was much more agreeable.
She was built because the guy bought a boat unsurveyed and took her to Vos to repair. Percy said it would be cheaper to make him a new boat than deal with all the problems of that boat. At the time there was a little sedan top in the yard, Juilet with a tuck stern and pretty straight stem, she had a sedan top and a windscreen fwd on top of the cabin for the helmsman. So the Vos crew took the lines off her and Ngakiwa was built to them with addition of that curvaceous sheer line. Can you see the tumble home aft? She was / is real classy as I said before.
The Russell’s father sold her when he bought Naiad in ’66.

Updated photo (27.08/14) ex Nathan Herbert ex classicboatsnz


Baldrick The Steamer

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Baldrick The Steamer

A 16’ Clinker built steam engine launch, built in 1953 by Percy Vos Ltd. Auckland
Converted to steam and completely refurbished by Don Penn from 1999 – 2006.

LOA 16’ LWL 15’.3” Draught 1’.7” Beam 5’.9”
Boiler:- A coal fired VFT ( Vertical fire tube design} by Graeme Wilkinson.

Construction: Planking and Keel – heart kauri. Stem –Pohutukawa natural crook.
Timbers – bent mangaeo. Fore and aft decks – teak 
Currently for sale on trademe